Natural populations of Serbian spruce in the Republic of Srpska (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Keywords:Bosnia and Herzegovina, endangered species, localities, Picea omorika, Republic of Srpska
During the last 70 years or more precisely after Pavle Fukarek’s papers were published (1950, 1951), nothing has been written about the area and the condition of Serbian spruce populations in Bosnia and Herzegovina (today the Republic of Srpska). According to Fukarek’s notes, a huge number of populations were completely burnt down (13 in total - among them some large stands with a large number of trees), in the fires during 1946/47. From that period only 14 sites remained in B&H (out of which there are six where Serbian spruce is present, but with fewer than 5 trees) (Figures 1a and 1b). Until today, with the exception of only a few short observations (Fabijanić, 1964; Čolić, 1966), there are no reliable data on the condition and the renewal of Serbian spruce stands in these localities.
In order to harmonize the current distribution, the number and the condition of Serbian spruce in B&H field research was carried out on all known and potentially new sites of Serbian spruce during 2017–2020 (in total 40 sites). Also, by analyzing all the available literature, the aim was to look at the changes in Serbian spruce stands throughout history, to “unify” the names of localities locations (toponyms) and to define the priorities in the conservation activities of this species.
Today, Serbian spruce is found either with a smaller or a larger number of trees at 26 localities locations (Table 1), individual trees are present at only 3 localities locations and it has not been confirmed at 11 localities locations (Figure 2; Figures 3-19). According to the number of trees, the natural regeneration and the need to implement active protection measures (Table 2), all sites can be divided into 4 groups:
1. Localities (5 in total) where Serbian spruce occurs in much more than 1000 specimens (Veliki Stolac, Suvi do (Arsenov rid and Smrčevo točilo), Gostilja, Sokolina-Vis on Radomišlja). At these locations, Serbian spruce is in extremely good condition and its survival is not a problem.
2. Localities (14 in total) where Serbian spruce occurs in a larger number of specimens (approximately 50-1000): Tisovljak, Sklopovi na Brloškim stijenama, in Crni potok (Šarena bukva, Borov vrt, Crvene stijena, Grad), Strugovi, Vidikovac, Karaula štula, Starogorske stijene (Baba, Šipova lokva, Teferič, Perine kamare) and Stajkovac on Vijogor. The stands are stable, but it is necessary to monitor the populations and the trends in order to prevent the negative impacts on time and if necessary, take adequate measures.
3. Localities (7 in total) up to several dozen trees (approximately <50): Pliština, Vranovina, Panjak, Božurevac, Dugi do, Tesla and Tovarnica. At these sites, Serbian spruce is disappearing and it is necessary to consider the ways in which we could help its natural regeneration.
4. Localities (3 in total) where individual juvenile Serbian spruce trees (or seedlings) have been registered. Serbian spruce was registered for the first time at two sites (Kamenjača above Dulum near Stari Brod and Mala Gostilja), while two seedlings were confirmed near the previously dried trees at Dobrotuš near the village of Laze. There is no future for Serbian spruce at these localities, so it is not proposed to implement any measures but only to mark and fence the trees in order to keep them alive for a longer time.
Among the listed localities, the activities related to group 3 are proposed with the aim of conserving, maintaining and rescuing Serbian spruce trees through in situ and/or ex situ methods of the conservation of genetic resources. Apart from for the above mentioned localities locations which can be characterized as very endangered from the aspect of Serban spruce conservation, no significant changes in the number of trees were found in a larger number of analyzed locations since the time when the first description was made until today.
In 11 sites where Serbian spruce was not confirmed eight were known from literature, and three were investigated based on the stories of locals or employees in forest management units (FMU). It can be said that today Serbian spruce is not present at the former localities: Šuma Me(h)ra on Sjemeć, Zaradovina near the village Luka, Goli vrh, Rogopek, Cerova ravan, Rakovac, Gornja Brštanica and Vrata. At the locations where local people have indicated the presence of Serbian spruce, the following has been determined: a) at Igrište, north from Ravna strana in the municipality of Vlasenica it is a narrow-pyramidal Norway spruce tree; b) not far from Plana near Han Pjesak there is Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii); and c) in Strmica, near Brložnik not a single tree resembling Serbian spruce was found.
The obtained results provide an important basis for further research on Serbian spruce, as well as for monitoring the changes and comparisons related to the previous period. Based on the previous facts the obligation of further activities and relations to Serbian spruce as a rare and endangered species is imposed.